David Marshall was a collector of Arts & Crafts metalwork before becoming a dealer.

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1 How did you get your start?

Back in 2007 I purchased an Arts & Crafts box made by an ‘AE Jones’ from a London dealer for my wife. I started to do some research, and soon I was drawn in by the beauty of the designs, the craftmanship and the history of the era.

I’ve been collecting Arts & Crafts metalwork ever since. In 2019 I was lucky enough to leave behind corporate life relatively early and start Hammer and Hand Antiques. I spend most of my time researching periodicals, catalogues and newspapers from the Arts & Crafts period.

2 What is one great discovery you’ve made?

In an auction at the end of April I was fortunate enough to purchase an incredibly rare oak and enamel clock designed by Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) and made c.1905 by the Guild of Handicraft, which he had set up in 1888. It appeared in a recent auction at Bamfords and sold for a hammer price of £2000. A fair sum, but it suggests to me that although a number of people knew it was rather special, few if any had made the link to Ashbee and the Guild. Thankfully a publication called Der Moderne Stil by Julius Hoffmann Jr includes images of a number of clocks from the same designer and maker.

The exact same design of clock is shown, one of only a handful of wooden clocks made by the guild around this time. It had been in the collection of a recently deceased gentleman called John Pankhurst, a clock collector from Nottinghamshire, who owned over 2000 clocks at one point.

They say lightning never strikes twice, but almost exactly a year prior to finding the clock I was fortunate enough to purchase another rare piece designed by Ashbee for the Guild: a pair of wrought-iron fire dogs with stylised faces also made c.1905. They had been for sale on another dealer’s website for many months, simply described as Arts & Crafts andirons. These fire dogs were also pictured in Der Moderne Stil, three pages after the clock.

Hart Silversmiths, who took over Ashbee’s Guild workshops in the early 1900s, have confirmed that these fire dogs appear in the archive of designs made by the firm. Neither of these finds had been attributed to Ashbee and the Guild before and I’m delighted to have found these rare and important pieces which nearly slipped through the net. They belong in a museum, and I shall hold on to them for a while at least before selling them. I am delighted to have reunited them with their history.

3 Do you have a collection in your home?

We have recently moved into a new house, and I’m delighted to finally have a study decorated in the Arts & Crafts style. I am able to surround myself with my favourite pieces displayed on Liberty & Co furniture from the same period. It’s a rather special sanctuary!

4 What is your favourite appearance of an antique in a play, film or book?

I once spotted a copper and silver box designed by Edward Spencer by the Artificers Guild in a 1960s film clip of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s office in Downing Street. It was sitting on the table behind him in the BBC’s documentary A history of modern Britain. The exact same box was for sale at the time by a dealer friend of mine who was rather impressed that I had spotted it.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Real ale every time. If you even mention espresso after 6pm I won’t sleep a wink that night.